Robert Cobb//
Names In the Graveyard
A Sermon Manuscript by Robert L. Cobb
Editor, NewsForChristians Dot Com
"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."
"And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died."
"And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died."
 "And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died".
"And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died."
"And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died."
                                                                                                       Gen. 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20
Introduction: Have you ever walked through an old graveyard and examined the markers bearing the names of long dead people?  The cemetery that holds my family members is a little more than a mile from my home and I visit there often.  There are very few people buried there that are remembered by anyone other than family and neighbors.  Most of them lived generations before me and are just names on a tombstone, listing their birth and dying days.  It is such a shame that these people are not remembered for their accomplishments, for their service to mankind, for their love of family, or for their faith in God.  They are seemingly just names in a graveyard.  The names listed in our text are like those tombstones:  Just a genealogy and how long they lived.  It seems so sparse.

In The People's Bible, author and preacher Joseph Parker addresses this thought with these words:

This fifth chapter of the book of Genesis is the beginning of that long series of chapters in human history which are extremely uninteresting. What do we know about Seth, Enos, Cainaii, Mahalaleel, and Jared? We know nothing and we care nothing, for they left no memorial behind them that shows their quality or excites our interest. You must have already noticed that this chapter...shows so clearly...that most people are extremely uninteresting. They are names and nothing more. They are producers and consumers, tenants and taxpayers, and that is all; they are without wit, music, piquancy, enterprise, or keenness of sympathy. They listen to your best anecdotes and say "hmm" ; they hear of Livingstone with a shrug; they suppose there must be a great noise at Niagara. Such people were Seth and Enos, Mahalaleel and Jared; respectable, quiet, plodding; said "good -night" to one another regularly, and remarked briefly upon the weather, and died. Just what many nowadays seem to do. Put down on paper everything that has passed between you and some people, and you will find how very little paper is needed.
That may be the story as far as society and humanity is concerned --but God's value system is certainly not like that of this world.  Our modern culture has shone a light on some of the most undeserving people that can be imagined.  The heroes of today are millionaires, entertainers and sports figures -- and some who have no talent other than being famous.  Today you can become famous just for appearing on a reality show doing your normal day-to-day activities.  Pawn shop owners, alligator hunters, moonshiners, drug addicts, and hard partiers have their own shows that people can follow every week.  Others get famous by their twitter accounts or Facebook.

It is hard to imagine any of these people scoring any points in the eyes of an Almighty God.  Even in the above-mentioned Parker's time, the same things were true:

I want to remind you also that really the best part of human history is never written at all. Family life, patient service, quiet endurance, the training of children, the resistance of temptation, these things are never mentioned by the historian.  The man who burns down an abbey or a minster is immortalized in history ; the poor housewife who makes a pound go as far as thirty shillings to give her boy a quarter's more schooling, is not known even to have lived. Guy Fawkes is known all over the world, but your honest father, who has given you a good example and a good training, is hardly known six doors away from his own residence. If we remember these things we shall mitigate the contempt with which we are apt to speak of so-called nobodies. 
Let us examine our text and some other scripture to see what God says about those unknown nobodies who are the majority of our population and one day will be just as forgotten as the names in Genesis Five.

It is certainly to our advantage that God does not choose us as His children as an employer would choose a worker, or a college would choose a professor, or a pageant judge would choose a beauty-contest winner. In I Corinthians 1, Paul says,  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  That no flesh should glory in his presence.  Many worldly observers look at the church and see plain, ordinary people without great abilities and mistakenly think that the churches attract those with less than special qualities.  But the opposite is true.  God says, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.  (John 15:16)

Not only does God choose differently than the world, He plays no favorites. No one is more important to God than another.  The most talented preacher or teacher is no more God's child than the illiterate homeless person.  No billionaire businessman is more important to the cause of Christ than the jobless mother on welfare.  No gifted genius carries more influence in Heaven than the special needs child who loves the Lord the best he can.  in Colossians 3:11, Paul says, Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.   And in Romans 2:11,  For there is no respect of persons with God.

God chooses us and doesn't play favorites, but another great truth about our relationship with God is His great love for us.  Every soul that dies in the Lord can close their eyes with the certainty that God loves them.  Christians many times take His love for granted, but the love of our God for us should always be uppermost in our minds.  I John 4:10 says, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  And again,  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us...  (Eph. 5:2)

When you take a walk in a graveyard, you can't help but to think of your own mortality.  Some graveyards have giant mausoleums filled with the bodies of prominent people.  It is always interesting to gaze over a cemetery to see the different size headstones vying for your attention.  Even in death, seemingly there is prejudice.

One of the great things about God is that He knows our hearts and judges accordingly! To illustrate this point, I think of Gideon in the Book of Judges.  He was a young farmer in an Israel that had been overrun by a foreign army, the Midianites. The Midianites had terrorized the populace to the point that they had hidden in the mountains to escape their cruelties.  When the story opens, Gideon is threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress, fearful of his life and that of his family.  There was surely nothing in the life of Gideon that would make anyone think that he would become a great instrument of God.  But God used him to defeat one of the greatest armies on the earth at that time.  God knows and values His people!  God saw in Gideon what he could make of him, not just the fearful farmer he was.
God told Samuel ...for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.   (1 Sam. 16:7)

Another consideration about the impact of a life must be the Christian's inner self.  We see the outside of folks; we cannot see what's going on in the spirit of man.  In Luke 8, there was a little woman that followed behind Jesus as He walked.  There was a throng of people following after Jesus, no doubt jostling for His attention and the most prominent place beside Him.  But the woman pressed through the crowd, no doubt irritating many, just to touch Jesus' garment as He walked.  Such a small thing!  Who was this woman?  Why did she push her way through the crowd just for that split second?  Most there probably didn't know her story and didn't care.  But Jesus knew her and addressed her need.  And she was healed that very moment!

There was a little widow woman living in Zarephath in 1 Kings 17.  She had a young son and was ready to give up and die when the Prophet Elijah came along.  She didn't know it, but God had already told Elijah that she would provide him with sustenance during the famine that was in the land at that time.  The villagers of Zarephath probably didn't think much of her and her son.  Not one of them offered any help.  But God had told His Prophet, Arise, get thee to Zarephath...and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

There are millions of unknown Christians all over the world that will never have a book written about them or a documentary made chronicling their lives.  Most godly Christians are unknown to the masses.  God calls us to shine our lights for those we work with, those we live with, those who are our neighbors.  We will never have our own reality show to testify of our love for our God.  We must witness the old-fashioned way -- person-to-person.  But make no mistake -  God will owe us for our labors.  He tells each of the seven churches in Revelation, I know thy works...  In John 12:26, Jesus says ... if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.  And in Matthew 10:42:  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The world will not record the deeds of God's people.  But that's OK, because God is recording every deed, every kind word, every cup of cold water.  Nothing goes unnoticed by God!  Have you ever heard of Frank Wimproy?  He was a Sunday School worker in a London church in 1912.  He felt led to speak to one of the 13-year-olds in the class. He pressed him about his soul's salvation and the boy prayed and received Christ.  That boy's name was Will.  We know him as W.E. Sangster, the great English preacher who preached while German bombs dropped all around him.

I would like to tell you about another "nobody" who was a servant of the Lord.  I wish I could tell you his name, but it is lost to the ages.  As a sixteen year old boy, Charles Spurgeon was making his way to a congregational church for prayer meeting, his soul heavy with conviction.  But it began to snow and in minutes he found himself in the midst of a full blown snowstorm.  He quickly ducked into a small primitive Methodist church to escape the weather.  As he settled he found there was only a few people there.  A substitute lay preacher stood up and opened his Bible to Isaiah 45:22, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else. Not being well prepared, the speaker would say a few words and repeat his reading of the text over and over.  It was just what the young Spurgeon needed to hear as his heart broke and he accepted the Lord.  That lay preacher could not, in his wildest imagination, have known the impact that night would make on the latter day church.  Spurgeon's messages are still being read over 120 years after his death!

As we consider the aforementioned facts, our thoughts should come to our own relationship with God.  Matthew 16:27  says, For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Do we have the proper emphasis on spiritual things?  Or are we mired in the things of the world, not caring about the things of God?  We will one day find ourselves at the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive our reward for the deeds done in the body.  How will it go for you?  I Corinthians 3 reveals the scene; Every manís work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work of what sort it is. If any manís work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  It is a blessing to know that God's judgments will be fair; there will not be one reward deserved that will be withheld.  But that same blessing can be a curse if we are not about our Father's business.

What will they say at your funeral?  The tomb rock that stands at the head of your grave will give only the slightest of information.  But the truth will be revealed in the last time.  May our works stand the fire in that day! And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.  (Revelation 22:12 )

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